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Union Pacific: Weak Intermodal Volume Dragged Its Rail Traffic

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May. 6 2019, Published 8:22 a.m. ET

Rail traffic

Union Pacific’s (UNP) rail traffic fell 1.7% YoY (year-over-year) in Week 17, which ended on April 27. The company hauled 167,189 railcars during the week compared to 170,163 wagons in Week 17 of 2018.

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During the week, five of the seven Class I railroad companies (XTN) registered volume declines, while two recorded increases. Norfolk Southern (NSC) and CSX (CSX) registered the highest declines of 5.1% each, while Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) reported the highest gain of 8.7%.

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Union Pacific’s dismal rail traffic performance was mainly the result of a 6.2% fall in its intermodal volumes. During the week, the company moved 72,281 containers and trailers compared to 77,065 units in Week 17 of 2018. The company’s container volumes fell 5.7% YoY to 69,551 units from 73,722 units, while its trailer volumes fell 18.3% YoY to 2,730 units from 3.343 units.

During Week 17, five of the seven Class I railroad companies recorded lower intermodal units. CSX saw the highest volume decline of 10.9%. Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway (CNI) were the only two gainers. They registered YoY rises of 5.4% and 3.9%, respectively.

Carload traffic improved

Union Pacific’s carload traffic increased 1.9% YoY to 94,908 railcars from 93,098 railcars in Week 17 of 2018. The company’s carload volumes, excluding coal and coke, fell 1.4% YoY at 74,104 units, while its coal and coke traffic increased 15.8% YoY to 20,804 units from 17,963 units.

Union Pacific recorded carload traffic growth across the metallic ores, grain, coal, non-metallic minerals, chemicals, petroleum, iron, and metal commodity groups. The company registered volume declines across farm, forest, lumber, wood, pulp, paper, coke, and motor vehicles and equipment products.

Except for Norfolk Southern and CSX, every major Class I railroad company reported carload volume growth in Week 17. Norfolk Southern and CSX recorded carload traffic declines of 7.3% and 0.6%, respectively. Canadian Pacific Railway registered the highest carload volume gain among all of the Class I railroad companies at 10.6%.

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